To all who know, love and respect the NAACP:
The MSR alerts its readers, and through them the entire community, of an uncommonly important event coming up this weekend — a special election of the Minneapolis NAACP. Spread the word. This is, in our view, one of the most crucial local elections to come before us in years, one with the potential to alter for the better the quality and effectiveness of leadership in the Black community. Here’s why.
Last week the MSR published an opinion piece by Jeffrey Hassan on behalf of the African American Leadership Forum with the headline “StarTribune declares open season on Black leaders.” Mr. Hassan defended several Black leaders, all male, who he is convinced have been treated unfairly by Minneapolis Star Tribune reporting.
We respect Mr. Hassan’s right to share his views with our readers. He may have special inside knowledge of these circumstances that makes him confident of the innocence of all those who have lately been accused of ethical improprieties and/or potential criminal behavior. However, we cannot yet share his confidence.
It is our understanding that at least some of the accusations involve ongoing investigations by, among others, the State of Minnesota and the FBI. Until the evidence is in and all sides have been heard, we consider it irresponsible for any newspaper to leap to the defense of anyone accused of wrongdoing, Black or White. At this time, as we see it, the jury is still out and we remain unconvinced one way or the other. In the meantime our plan is to continue reporting the known facts to our readers as best we can (as in this week’s front-page story “Is the Strib unfairly targeting Black leaders?”)
We would never defend the Star Tribune’s reporting in general on the Black community, having seen all too often how blindly biased that reporting can be. We’ve seen incriminating stories about Black leaders appear on Star Tribune front pages while the stories vindicating them get buried somewhere inside months later. Our continued vigilance in bringing attention to these biases, however, does not mean that we automatically discredit any facts that newspaper may bring to light. Being the subject of an incriminating Star Tribune story does not make someone innocent any more than it makes them guilty.
After all, it’s not as if none among our community leadership could possibly be engaged in misdeeds that need exposure. The Star Tribune did not bring down the St. Paul Urban League — its leadership did. The Star Tribune did not mismanage the Minneapolis Community Action Agency — its own management saw to that. Is it somehow the Star Tribune’s fault that the Minneapolis NAACP has not held a meeting with a voting quorum since its last election more than a year ago?
To date, not one of the accused male leaders who Mr. Hassan defends has requested our newspaper’s support, made any effort to persuade us of his innocence, or even submitted a personal statement in his defense that we could share with our readers. We have to try hard to convince ourselves that this disrespect from Black male leaders for Minnesota’s original Black Press newspaper has nothing to do with it being woman owned, woman managed and woman edited.
Which brings us back to this coming weekend’s crucial Minneapolis NAACP election. It seems the previous administration has fallen apart, necessitating the special election. The MSR reported last summer on four promising Black women leaders brimming with excitement and big plans who had been elected NAACP. Sadly, within weeks or months all four were gone from an organization they found unwelcoming if not hostile to their plans.
An outspoken African American woman activist, Nekima Levy-Pounds, has declared her candidacy for the NAACP presidency. This has drawn predictable accusations that she is behind the Star Tribune’s “open season” on male Black leaders and that she is a “sell-out.”
We know Nekima Levy-Pounds to be a highly capable, principled Black woman committed to the betterment of her people and our community. We can’t help but ask where the defenders of Black leaders were when, as a leader of the local Black Lives Matter movement, Levy-Pounds was attacked by the Mall of America and the City of Bloomington for taking effective direct action protesting police murders of Black men.
As Levy-Pounds says in her dignified reply to the efforts to defame her character and commitment, “It’s time to shift the paradigm for communities of color in the Twin Cities.” We couldn’t agree more.
The NAACP special election is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 2, 6 pm, at NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, 1313 Penn Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55411, 612-543-2500.